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  • Author or Editor: Hunter Slade x
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Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) orchards in Georgia and throughout the southeastern United States are commonly established from land that had previously been used for row cropping systems. Soil quality is characteristically low in the loamy-sand, low pH soils of the southeastern Coastal Plain. Changes in land use are known to exhibit different effects on soil quality; however, no studies specifically address soil enhancement from converting row crop land to pecan orchards in this region. Sampling was conducted in eight counties throughout the coastal plain of South Georgia in 2020 and 2021. The objectives of this study were to analyze and compare soil quality indicators of pecan orchards of varying ages and adjacent row crop fields. Soil quality indicators analyzed include soil organic matter (SOM), active carbon or permanganate oxidizable carbon (POXC), aggregate stability, cation exchange capacity (CEC), bulk density, porosity, Solvita CO2-Burst, SLAN (Solvita labile-amino nitrogen), pH, and total N. Results from this study demonstrate that pecan orchards under commercial management had higher soil quality compared with row crop fields based on the indicators measured. Active carbon and Solvita CO2-Burst measurements suggest that pecan orchards exhibited significantly higher rates of microbial activity and soil respiration. Indicators of soil microbial activity such as active carbon and Solvita CO2-Burst were strongly correlated with SOM, which explained much of the variation observed in these measurements of soil microbial activity. Selected soil quality indicators also provide evidence that the soil quality of commercial pecan orchards in this region improves with orchard age.

Open Access